Monday, June 15, 2009

Just in time intervention

Since starting teaching I've endeavoured to provide kids with just-in-time intervention. I'm not sure where the concept originated but I use the term as an in between to "early intervention", "delayed intervention" and "too bloody late intervention".

Just in time ("JIT") intervention is finding an area where the curriculum has failed (such as weak performance found after a test in an unexpected area) and plugging the gap by providing extra tuition or resources to fix the issue, immediately after the issue has been discovered (thus the "just in time"). Examples when JIT intervention would be be needed would be finding BIMDAS problems during the teaching of percentages or discovering negative number issues when expanding brackets in algebra topics. Students needing JIT intervention typically can master new topics but can't apply their new learning due to an associated issue - leading to poor retention of the new concept. Fix the associated issue and fix retention problems of new concepts.

JIT intervention is different to early intervention as early intervention is typically preventative and is sprayed around like a weed killer - "catch the issue before it occurs and hopefully we will stop what happened last year". It's different to delayed intervention as this can be seen as "the next teacher can try again with the same sort of material next year (only more difficult) and try to find success" and too bloody late intervention which occurs in senior school where students are finally streamed into classes where they can find success but have little time left in school to do so.

Until now I have focused on finding worksheets and doing lunch workshops for particular areas of the curriculum. I have avoided online resources as until now they have been overly focused on fun and are not focused enough on addressing requirements of students. As there is only one of me, workshops and worksheets have had limited success - in senior school if you scratch the surface it wells with underlying issues that require attention, more than any one person can address.

Our latest attempt to provide JIT intervention is to leverage some of the developed online tutorials that have shown some promise and direct kids to them. In an art imitates life experience (think 'the Simpsons'), the free McDonalds sponsored "MathsOnline" project is getting a guernsey at our school as the tutorials have found success with indigenous students - which we hope will extend to other struggling students needing help. We are setting up a maths lab that allows students access to the MathsOnline resources and will use them in conjunction with maths resources bought from the ESL budget for low literacy students. The mathsLab is adjacent to my room (connected with a concertina wall) and I aim to be able to monitor students as they attempt to rectify a range of issues and assist where possible.

I do like the maths online implementation as it is not "button mashing" or "timing based competition" but requires listening to a short tutorial, working out answers on paper and then checking them against an online marking key - similar in concept to the pizzazz or mathomat/mathmagic type worksheets (without the awful maths jokes (that I tend to laugh wayy too heartily at))... It also records the attempts of students so that I can investigate when the tutorial is insufficient.

We presented mathsonline today to the IT committee and hopefully they see some benefit in it. Our principal was positive with his praise of the initiative - now we have to find some success to warrant the praise.

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